Over the years, Team 17's Worms franchise has really grown into a work all its own, a strategy series that relies just as much on silliness as it does smarts. It may have gotten a little lackluster over the last few releases, thanks its less-than-favorable debut on the Nintendo DS and a few lame-duck 3-D entries. Fortunately, Worms: Open Warfare 2 is one of the best—if not the best—in the series.
The gameplay remains mostly the same as other 2-D entries, as players move around a limited set of playfields and blast enemy worms to kingdom come by whatever means necessary. Various favorite weapons return, including the exploding sheep and the awesome-beyond-words ninja rope. The raging buffalo blowing up everything in its path is a must-use and the new boomerang works wonders for clearing out a field of worms ahead of you.
The Campaign mode runs through several different periods of time, starting in the pirate age and eventually working its way into outer space. Each era introduces a fun boss battle as well, where players dispatch a cunning or stronger worm before moving on. Puzzle Mode also deserves a mention, requiring you to defeat worms with limited weaponry and moves. It works brilliantly, introducing a new factor that we wouldn't mind seeing in future entries. There are also a few inventive mini-games to try out, which make fine use of the DS' capabilities. Our favorite requires you to blow into the microphone to keep a worm from dying. Finally, newcomers will get a kick out of Tutorial Mode, which explains the basic rules of wormy combat without overwhelming the player.
Customization also plays a huge role in Open Warfare 2. Players create their own teams, change their language and dialect, choose and design team flags, tombstones and much, much more. Furthermore, as players fight throughout the game, they earn extra tokens, which can be spent on new customization items. Also, a level editor lets you create your own ideal battlefield.
Graphically, Worms has undergone an incredible makeover since last year's Warfare debacle. The 3-D backdrops look much better, resulting in far less slowdown and better pacing. In addition, the comedic animations of the wormy warriors continue to be uproariously hilarious. It can be a pain at times trying to survey the entire screen with the DS system's set-up, but that doesn't get in the way of enjoying the game. Finally, the sound works, with decent background music and lots of corny dialogue.
Last but definitely not least; what would a game like Worms be without competition? Fortunately, Open Warfare 2 supports it in spades. Along with being able to take on people locally with a friend and versus play with other Worms owners, the game has infrastructure support. This not only allows for battling online, but also updating the greatest Worm teams in the nation with updated leaderboards.
Worms: Open Warfare 2 is one of the best games in the series to date, if not the absolute best. The options almost seem endless; the multiplayer options go on forever and the battles refreshing appeal. Fans will absolutely love this and newcomers will have no better time to drop into the Worm war than now, especially with the Tutorial mode. Enlist today.